Longtime outspoken critic of globalism and what he calls the "rationalist elite," John Ralston Saul argues it's time for a big shift in our political and corporate thinking. Despite the promise of a shiny new world order of globalism for the past forty years, he argues, 19th century European ideas of progress borne out in the industrial revolution continue to dominate the direction of the world.
To a packed house at Melbourne's RMIT, Ralston Saul argues that the worldwide reliance on and faith in globalism has led to war, financial meltdown and a failure to find solutions to important challenges such as climate change.
John Ralston Saul
John Ralston Saul, a long-time champion of freedom of expression, was elected President of International PEN in October 2009.
An award-winning essayist and novelist, Saul has had a growing impact on political and economic thought in many countries. Declared a "prophet" by TIME magazine, he is included in the prestigious Utne Reader's list of the world's 100 leading thinkers and visionaries. His works have been translated into 22 languages in 30 countries.
Saul is perhaps best known for his philosophical trilogy - Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West, The Doubter's Companion: A Dictionary of Aggressive Common Sense and The Unconscious Civilization. This was followed by a meditation on the trilogy - On Equilibrium: Six Qualities of the New Humanism.
John Ralston Saul, President of International PEN, frames the climate change debate as a gamble, calling it an "unacceptable risk" even if the odds are less than 50-50 that human actions are triggering environmental destruction. "You're willing to take this risk, even if it means your grandchildren fry?" Saul asks.
He blames European philosophy, Western methodology, and 19th-century English economics for preventing decisive action on the issue.
Process by which the experience of everyday life, marked by the diffusion of commodities and ideas, is becoming standardized around the world. Factors that have contributed to globalization include increasingly sophisticated communications and transportation technologies and services, mass migration and the movement of peoples, a level of economic activity that has outgrown national markets through industrial combinations and commercial groupings that cross national frontiers, and international agreements that reduce the cost of doing business in foreign countries. Globalization offers huge potential profits to companies and nations but has been complicated by widely differing expectations, standards of living, cultures and values, and legal systems as well as unexpected global cause-and-effect linkages. See alsofree trade.
Capitalism fails without cheap labor. That is why the capitalist oligarchy running America legislated poverty for tens of millions of Americans a long time ago.
To the capitalist wannabe's who just got their clocks cleaned, welcome to the American reality you tacitly supported - suckah.
If hard work and talent were requisite to being a capitalist, then inheritance would be illegal.
Support the Bush / Republican inheritance tax cut.
"On this level playing field there is no room for public service, the public weal, self-restraint, responsibility or any civic virtue."
You make what you want out of life in a free society. A free society does not preclude any of those. It actually demands self-restraint, responsibility, and civic virtue.
The ideas of 'public service' are for those who 'own the power and fools'. Every time you have a public service, it seeks to expand for its own money and power. The poor do not benefit from public service. Only those in the public service benefit.
And sports is a good example because the vast majority of people realize that they need rules to play by in order to even have a game. We all need 'fair' rules that we agree upon to play our game of life. The idea that one team is allowed to have 3 strikes, and another 5 strikes in baseball would be outrageous, and you would not have a game. If it's the case that the top teams win the championship... so be it. It's a worthwhile tradeoff to have a civilized game.
Which is one of the reason why the rules need to be set before you start playing the game. Once the game is started, people have self interests and try to cater rules to their favor. It's like if you are a power hitter in baseball and want the rules changed, you might want a smaller field to hit more homeruns.
It is this kind of legislative action with arbitrary power from government that enables this kind of rule breaking. Once government think it needs to 'manage' things, it needs 'arbitrary power' and you end up in this mess where society is run by the welfare bums of the public service and bankers.
Whereas if you view government as simply the maker of 'fair rules' then you let people earn their living and they cannot simply rely on the rules of government to keep them wealthy and powerful.
It is only a fool who denies fair rules... who thinks that big government will somehow benefit the poor instead of benefiting those in government.
@scamper: John Ralston Saul on the Level Playing Field from the Doubter's Opinion:
"An ideological abstraction adopted as a universal value by the management of large corporations.
The level playing field is an idealised vision of the open market. Here the close relationship between corporate mythology and competitive sport is fully consummated. The theory is that, in a world where governments have not falsified the natural rules of the market-place, corporations will be able to go out onto the field and struggle manfully against each other. In these conditions the best "man," that is, the most efficient, will win. The result will be low prices, maximum production and varied choice for the consumer, as well as progress, continual growth and prosperity.
Curiously enough this essentially American concept has an old-fashioned British Empire etymology. But the training of elites on playing fields - Eton's or not - implied an idea of ethics. There would be competition, but it would be fair and good and among gentlemen. There was also never any suggestion that playing fields were places of open or free competition. Or that they were exempted from national regulations. Every second in sport, after all, is controlled by strictly enforced man-made rules.
The playing field is a paradigm of regulations. Its length and width are defined. It is usually market out with lines across which a player can cross only in defined circumstnaces. The number of player, their roles, how long they can be on, penalities for breaking rules, regulated uniforms, pads and instruments, the length of each period, the length of the game itself - all of this is regulated and enforced. To the extent that a playing field is made level, it is by complex regulations and, as in golf and horse-racing, man-made handicaps.
Sport is a romantic metaphor for warfare. Real men fight according to strict rules and the winner takes all. The fate of the losers, whether death or humiliation, isn't of great concern. The playing field is unapologetically exclusive. It seeks to promote the winner and exclude the losers.
If the world "level" is defined as meaning unregulated and is added to the term playing field, and that phrase is applied to a whole economy, then a further step has been taken. not only does such an economy seek to exclude all losers but it attempts to remove the normal restraining rules of sport. On this level playing field there is no room for public service, the public weal, self-restraint, responsibility or any civic virtue.
As a result, the one thing the level playing field is not is level. It is a slippery slope on which only the strongest or the biggest can grab hold. The rest slip down into a heap at the bottom and scratch each other's eyes out in an attempt to rise to the level of survival.
This idea of unregulated warfare appeals to our foolish self-pride by suggesting that only a weakling, a coward or an incompetent could be afraid to come out from behind artificial protectionn in order to fight like a man. Of course only a fool rises to this kind of taunting, because an unstructured playing field favours not only the strong but also the large and the inefficient. Even with the fairest of rules, smaller groups must always work twice as hard and be twice as smart. They must use rapid action, mbility and guerrilla tactics, all the time keeping a safe distance from the sweeping might of the great imperial forces. If you remove the rules, you remove the tools for survival of the small force.
History is filled with a long list of small armies and small nations who have risen to the taunts of large neighbours. The next recorded event is their destruction. Whatever the explanation for these moment of confusion and error, a fool is a fool and history buries one with little comment.
In short, the people who cry loudest for a level playing field fall into two categories: those who own the goal-posts and fools. See: IDEOLOGY."
This guy was worthwhile, but also painful to listen to.
He is absolutely right about growth. Once a society reaches a certain level of prosperity, growth is dead. Now let's separate the 'free market' from 'capitalism'.
The 'free market' is about people making choices with their own money of what to purchase.
Capitalism in its modern form is a debt based economy focused on growth and banking...
In this sense capitalism is going to be ruinous for the future as we're not going to get the growth and growth is needed if you're always in debt.
This has nothing to do with the free market. So this guy sees the problem with modern capitalism... but then wants to go back in time to days of cultural policy... and then he mocks it by saying its old school 19th century British thinking... and then praises Aboriginal policy of thousands of years ago. Sorry to say man... but there's a reason the Aboriginals lost... they were behind. and they're were not all loving and nature folk.
There is also nothing 'free-market' about free trade. The free market requires all people to play by the same rules. How is it fair that a western worker has to obey a high minimum wage while a chinese worker does not? This is not a free market.
What we have right now is government-capitalism.
The bankers are on welfare.
The public sector is on welfare.
The regular people are going to suffer. Only a free market putting the money and power in the hands of regular people will solve this. Get rid of the debt based economy. Anything else will only empower those in government (public sector and bankers). Yes, they are one in the same in my book. They are not opposites.
They are both on welfare, robbing the rest of us blind.
Great! In response to a serious question about the potential for Global Damage due to the effects of social mismangement, we have:
1. A person who wants to prove the existence of invisible, undetectable, non-beings. His argument: You cannot prove they don't exist!
2. A sophist, who arguing that "Pascal's wager" can lead to disastrous consequences, And, if you follow that mistaken logic, you'll be as screwy as the invisible gelatious creatures.
It would seem very true that if you do not comprehend the safety of an action, you should avoid it: The pill which hasn't been tested by the FDA MAY be safe...maybe not. Why not take it. The firearm, which may or may not be unloaded: would you point it at your child? Your wife? It's unlikely, right?
Of the 4 outcomes from the "pascal Wager, the WORST case would be to spend dollars to engineer more efficient, less polluting sources of energy. A growth industry with NO bad outcomes! Who would NOT want cleaner water? cleaner air? More efficient autos? More efficient mass transportation?
Please, spare me your tiresome tripe! about the dangers of safety and caution.
Making important life decisions on the basis of Pascal's wager is really setting yourself up for disastrous consequences. Calling that kind of self-destructive behaviour rational and scientific is only a few steps removed from the poster above me.
Never forget that it was the very same greens who killed off nuclear technology on similar irrational fears about big scary "radiation" back in the 80's. Time for the psuedo-skeptic quasi-rationalist scaremongers to exit stage left methinks.
I believe the all issue is backed on the wrong permisses.
And I cant say more for the time being.
John like many others scientists, is not really an insider of What the weather is about.He has to go back some thousand years to have a clue of what weather is about and the agents involved with.
One hint: Glass as we know is a solid material and in certain occasions invisible to our eyes. All right, what if we admit the possibility of life around our skies with no color at all or beings with the capacity of masking themselves, with or without a gelatinous body? And what if we are killing these diferent forms of life? Planes dont fall down because of no reason.